Right at the very beginning of my meditation practice I was introduced to both mindfulness of breathing and the development of lovingkindness meditation. It was explained to me that both of these practices were equally important, that they were complementary, and that alternating these practices prevented imbalance in our approach. It was stressed, in fact, [...]
Perhaps this is why I often imagine I’m doing my lovingkindness practice on a mountain-top:
Everyone assumes that heaven is high above the ground somewhere, while hell is down below. But why can’t heaven be below us, and hell high above? According to a new study, our brains seem to automatically link elevation with goodwill. In one experiment in a mall in mid-December 2009, researchers set up Salvation Army kettles in three locations: the top of an escalator, the bottom of an escalator, and away from any escalators. Shoppers contributed more often at the top of the escalator and least often at the bottom of the escalator. Likewise, in two experiments in an auditorium, people randomly assigned to sit on stage were more helpful and less malicious toward another person than people assigned to sit at floor level and especially more than people assigned to sit in the orchestra pit.
I should be in bed, but I just have to say that this NYT piece by Lisa Jones is one of the most beautiful things I have read in ages.
She writes about spending time on the Wind River Indian Reservation with Stanford Addison, a quadriplegic Northern Arapaho horse gentler and traditional healer.
Addison’s story of youthful violence, a devastating accident, and realization that he was a healer is inspiring.
Before his accident, he was as heartless and handsome as a young rebel could be. He was a small-time outlaw who busted broncs, broke hearts, robbed cafes and dealt drugs. After the accident, his 20-year-old body lay unmoving, visited by doctors, nurses, and spirits who began to endow him with unwanted healing powers.
After two years of hospitalization and rehab, he returned home, recognized the sorrow and pity in the eyes of his friends, and decided to kill himself. He tried, failed,
Natalie Angier is my favorite science writer. Often I’ll be a couple of paragraphs into a science story, notice how well written it is, and realize it must be one of hers.
Her latest is a preview of a new book by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, “Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding,” which will be published by Harvard University Press in April.
The thesis of the book is that we evolved cooperation and social intelligence through learning to love babies. As Angier puts it:
…human babies are so outrageously dependent on their elders for such a long time that humanity would never have made it without a break from the great ape model of child-rearing. Chimpanzee and gorilla mothers are capable of rearing their offspring pretty much through their own powers, but human mothers are not.
Unlike chimps, our closest relatives, we spend …
The practice of metta (lovingkindness), uncovering the force of love that can uproot fear, anger, and guilt, begins with befriending ourselves. The foundation of metta practice is to know how to be our own friend. According to the Buddha,
“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
How few of us embrace ourselves in this way! With metta practice we uncover the possibility of truly respecting ourselves. We discover, as Walt Whitman put it,
“I am larger and better than I thought. I did
I think the “death of kindness” argument is overstated, but there’s a lot of interesting food for thought provided. Here’s the start of the article. I’d recommend reading the whole thing.
Kindness was mankind’s “greatest delight”, the Roman philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius declared, and thinkers and writers have echoed him down the centuries. But today many people find these pleasures literally incredible, or at least highly suspect. An image of the self has been created that is utterly lacking in natural generosity. Most people appear to believe that deep down they (and other people) are mad, bad and dangerous to know; that as a species – apparently unlike other species of animal – we are deeply and fundamentally antagonistic to each